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This note provides background to the Rough Sleepers Initiative (RSI) and an assessment of its impact between 1990 and 1999.

The RSI marked a significant attempt to tackle rough sleeping. Originally envisaged as a short-term initiative, the RSI incorporated a range of approaches and schemes – its broad aim was to make it unnecessary for people to sleep rough on the streets of London.

The programme ran for 9 years and spanned both Conservative and Labour Governments. Over the period of its operation the RSI recorded some significant successes. It was replaced in 1999 with Labour’s Homelessness Action Programme.

Crisis commissioned the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York to conduct a review of single homelessness in the UK between 2000 and 2010. The study, A review of single homelessness in the UK, was published in January 2011. It provides an overview of the history, causes and policy responses to single homelessness and assesses how successful these policies have been in tackling the issue. The study suggested some policy responses for the next decade.

The current approach to tackling rough sleeping can be found In Library note SN02007, Rough sleeping (England).

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